20 October 2013

Tumblr: my toxic frenemy

First things first - I'd like to thank Chelsea Birkby, my oldest friend, and one of my best friends in the world. If it wasn't for her, this post wouldn't be happening. And for that, I owe her a lot. Firstly, because without her I'd still be stuck in a toxic cycle, and secondly, for making me feel a whole lot better about everything. She has inspired this post. So Chelsea, this one's for you (and for Katie, who kindly said "You're fit babes, don't worry about it")...

Lately, I've been on a downward spiral. Initially it started with self-doubt, which I blamed on starting a new job, and the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with new ventures. But then I started to dislike myself, dislike how I looked, dislike my size, my hair... just about everything. I mean, it started to veer on self-loathing.

Only now do I realise that this is bad, and it needs to stop.

And if my job wasn't to blame, what was? The simple answer: Tumblr.

Now, for those who aren't familiar with Tumblr, it's a social platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, but it's different in that its main focus is photography (although you can share links, videos, quotes, text, and more).

At first, Tumblr was a bit of a novelty to me. It was a place to share things that I couldn't on Twitter. You know the drill: things you wouldn't post on Facebook, you tend to post on Twitter... And Tumblr was a place I could post things that I felt were too angsty for Twitter. 

It was a place I could rant, complain, moan about anything I wanted, and no one would say anything.

Which was liberating for a while, but then kind of sad, when you think about it. Can you imagine a place where people speak about things that bother them, and they disappear into the internet, with no one to console them? Well, that's Tumblr.

But it gets worse. Because Tumblr is more than that, worse than that. Not only does it allow a place for people to complain, but it allows for people to indulge in sadness. Almost until indulging becomes normal, and expected.

My "dashboard" (the equivalent of a facebook wall, or a twitter feed) was full of quotes and photography reblogged by people saying things like "When will things get better?", "I wonder if anyone knows how lonely I am", "It's 1am and all I can think about is you, and where things went wrong", "It sucks to be the ugly, fat and boring friend"... and so on. These posts have notes (likes & shares) in the 6 figure range. It's not right. And when you see things like this all the time - I'm guilty of scrolling through my dashboard first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening - it starts to affect you. And in my case, I found myself starting to feel this way, reblogging sad things, and feeling sad.

If that wasn't bad enough, Tumblr is guilty of promoting an unrealistic body image and unrealistic role models. I became attuned to seeing picture after picture of flawless models, Emma Watson, Lily Collins, Cara Delevigne, until I became numb. I knew I couldn't look like them, but I wanted to. It made me feel utterly crap. And the "typical Tumblr girl" was laughable - long, long dirty blonde hair, button nose, thigh gap, flat stomach, often donning a bikini (they always have pert, cellulite-less bottoms) or cut off shorts which on anyone above a size 6, would be considered indecent.

Again, if you see this all the time, it becomes the norm, and something to aspire to. Tumblr was my guilty pleasure, but it also became completely toxic. I felt like if I was down, I could always find solace in an angsty marker pen-covered paint sample (look it up, it's a total tumblr stereotype). Whenever I felt like I wasn't looking my best, seeing those  "perfect" girls was painful. It wasn't fitspo, it was just ridiculous. It was as if Tumblr was simultaneously encouraging indulgence in self-hatred and adoration of the unattainable, yet I couldn't get away. For every "sad" quote, there was a beautiful picture of the beach, offering a little escapism and aesthetic pleasure. For every ridiculously toned stomach, there was an adorable cat gif. But the negative always out-weighed the positive.

This might sound quite dramatic, but it's pretty amazing (disturbing?) the effect images and words can have on a person. Needless to say, if you've ever been moved by a book or a painting, you can begin to understand what I mean. Tumblr is just a digital version of this.

So, what was the point in this post? Yesterday I posted a particularly negative rant, and I woke up to my friend Chelsea saying "I saw your post, and I'm worried about you". It took a friend telling me to stop, and consider what the site was doing to me, to realise that I had to draw a line. Tumblr, if it was a friend, would be the type that gives you a back-handed compliment, lets you think they are reliable and trust-worthy, then completely betrays you, wishing you'd never met them in the first place.

I didn't need a "note" on a rant I'd written to make it feel like someone understood me; I needed a friend to tell me that I had a lot of things going for me, and that I was lovely, and beautiful, and had to stop being so negative.

Since this text, I have deleted the Tumblr app on my phone and iPad. I'm going cold turkey and avoiding the site until further notice. If I have a craving for pretty photography, I'll go on flickr or something. If I want a nice quote, I'll Google one. I thought Tumblr was the perfect combination of guilty pleasures rolled into a social media site, but it's only served for me to feel awful about myself, and it's time to cut it off.

Has anyone else felt the toxicity of Tumblr, or is it just me?

11 October 2013

Glamour, the country and peppermint tea

The last few weeks have all been a bit of a blur; a blur of mail-outs, late nights, train journeys, appointments... the list goes on. It's been busy, to say the least. There have been new faces, which are wonderful (if a little daunting, sometimes) and old faces, which have been like metaphorical hugs.

Last week, I volunteered to help out at a Glamour Reader Event in partnership with The Body Shop*, which took the form of a make-up masterclass. If you haven't been to a reader event before (I hadn't), it's an event that readers sign up for (so pretty self-explanatory, really) and involves pampering and discounts.

The event was held above the Body Shop store on Bond Street and it was done up wonderfully thanks to the creative agency we work with - all twinkly fairy lights and plants and products EVERYWHERE, not to mention yummy nibbles and drinks. The masterclass was held by Lan Nguyen-Grealis, the Head Make Up Artist we worked with at Fashion Scout, and she used a model to talk through the season's best looks and gave tips how to achieve them. My favourite? For a natural take on contouring, brush a "3" shape from the forehead to the cheekbone, then from the cheekbone down to the jaw.

I enjoyed myself a lot, but it meant I had voluntarily put myself up for upwards of 12 hours a day. Whoops! Safe to say come Friday, I was absolutely exhausted. So what better way to fight exhaustion than to take some time out and visit and good friend in the countryside?

The weekend was exactly what I needed: lots of sleep (I managed to sleep in until 2pm on the first day... sorry, I'm not sorry), yummy food, good company, a lot of down time watching trashy tv and a spontaneous movie marathon (who could say no to "Friends With Benefits" followed by "Easy A"? Not us). We went fruit picking, walked the dog... and before I left we went to THE most beautiful pub I have ever visited. It looked like a miniature castle, with turrets and everything! I loved it.

My "I'm ready for the pub" selfie...

And it was nice, having someone my own age to talk to. I have lovely people at work I get on with, but we never really have chance to talk outside the office. I do miss being surrounded by 20 year olds nattering about boys, clothes and Made in Chelsea, sometimes.

I'm having to step up my game - work-wise - at the moment, testing my time management skills to the extreme! I've been arranging meetings with bloggers and press and although everyone I've met has been super lovely, sometimes it's not half frustrating trying to chase people up! My advice would be to not lose hope, and utilise every resource you have. And if that fails? Pick up the phone. It's quite ballsy, but it does get results. There's nothing worse seeing your inbox change to (1), only to realise it's not a response and have to go back to the waiting game (I hate waiting on people, have you noticed?).

Anywho, although meeting people who have been in the business longer than you is a little terrifying, it's rewarding, gives you a break from the office, and improves your confidence. It's kind of like blind-dating, but with no sexual agenda... Oh, and not to mention you get the chance to explore London's array of cute cafes and bistros. Always a bonus!

I loved Bills, located in St. Martin's Courtyard, Covent Garden

With being so busy, you'd think caffeine would be the answer, right? Well actually, no.

I've become a little paranoid that I'm taking my health for granted. I'm not doing enough for MYSELF, yet hoping that my body deals with whatever is thrown its way. In terms of getting ill, I'm a ticking bomb. So, I've decided to stick to one cup of coffee when I get into the office, and have herbal teas (my current favourite is peppermint, FYI) any time I feel myself start to lag. And tonight I'm going to start exercising again after 4 MONTHS, so you never know, I might die in the process and you'll never have to read my ramblings ever again. A blessing in disguise (maybe).

Which brings me to TODAY, where I dressed up as a Gingerbread woman and ventured into big publishing houses around the capital to deliver Ginger-themed goodies to beauty teams. Half hilarious, half embarrassing, people were divided between thinking I looked cute and plain creepy. The latter wasn't too great - fancy hearing "That's terrifying!" when you're stuck in an oversized onesie for the day, whether they like it or not. All I could do was awkwardly wave, which only seemed to creep them out more. Oh, well!

I'm in there, somewhere...

Toodle pip, and have a lovely weekend!

*Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. My opinions do not reflect those of The Body Shop, only of my, er, mind.
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